Rishi Sunak’s Government Faces Scrutiny Over Visa Surge and Asylum Backlog

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London (Parliament Politics Maganize) – Rishi Sunak’s administration grapples with record visa issuances and persistent asylum application backlogs, raising scrutiny and concern

According to newly released figures, the number of visas given to allow social care workers into the UK reached record levels in 2023. The official data also reveals Sunak’s government made slow improvements toward his promises to terminate the use of hotels for asylum seekers, slash the backlog of applications, and “stop the boats.”

Home Office visa data indicates that the number of visas issued to people aiming to work in the care sector, excluding dependents, reached 106,000 in 2023. Health and care visas comprise 75% of all long-term “skilled worker” visa assistance in a work visa system increasingly overwhelmed by the public sector. Madeleine Sumption, the director of the Migration Observatory, stated: “When free movement ended, the government said that employers would have to adjust. What this meant was that other employers would have to change.

“Where the government directly or indirectly employs workers, there has been much less enthusiasm to restrict. This has meant the public sector has increasingly overwhelmed the skilled work visa system.”

The figures revealed on Thursday came as the Conservatives and Labour prepare for immigration as a key battleground at the general election later this year. There were 128,786 in the backlog of asylum seekers at the end of 2023, a decline of nearly 40,000 since September 2023 but more elevated than the 109,000 backlog in March 2022.

As of 31 December, there were 3,902 legacy cases – those where applications were made before the end of June 2022 – awaiting an initial decision. In January, the statistics watchdog condemned the Home Office after the government was blamed for lying about clearing part of the asylum backlog.

Sunder Katwala, the director of the British Future think tank, stated: “These figures demonstrate how the government has tackled one asylum backlog only to begin building another.” Six months after Sunak pledges to end the use of hotels to house asylum petitioners temporarily, there are 45,768 people still living in them as they wait for their applications to be processed

The figures show some progress on the prime minister’s essential commitment– to end the use of small boats by refugees to cross the Channel. In 2023, 29,437 people reached the UK by small boat, down 36% since 2022. The report stated that the decrease in 2023 was primarily due to a 93% reduction in Albanians arriving.

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The Home Office admits that the weather caused small boat numbers to decline significantly in the latter part of last year. There were 64% fewer minor boat appearances during the previous three months of 2023 than in the same period in 2022, partly because of “poorer weather conditions.”

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.